The Gift of: Spiritual Adoption

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The Sacred Family

I cannot stop staring at this picture. The first time I saw it was at a (surprise surprise) Catholic Women’s Conference in Columbus where one of the vendors was a pro-life organization. There was a stack of prayer cards on the table. The prayer was on one side, this picture was on the other.

The prayer is this:

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of the unborn child that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.”

The prayer is from Venerable Fulton Sheen who wrote it in 1973 after abortion was deemed legal in the United States. He encouraged Catholics to pray this prayer daily for nine months in the name of the baby. He believed that, by such “spiritual adoption” of specific babies — one prayer at a time — the advance of the culture of death in America and abroad could be thwarted.

I spiritually adopted an unborn baby the week prior to reading this card, although I didn’t quite know it.

I had been asked, along with many of my friends, to pray for a young college student who found herself unexpectedly pregnant. We were asked to pray that this young woman would cancel her appointment at the abortion clinic the following week. We knew nothing more about this woman except for her first name.

A week later I was at this conference and saw this prayer card. Little did I know that the unborn baby that I knew of that was in danger of abortion, was scheduled to have an abortion that very day.

It is still unclear, about 3 weeks later, if this young girl went through with her abortion. No matter what, I find myself still praying for her. And I pray for her unborn baby as well all of the unborn everyday.

It’s difficult to express especially to those that aren’t pro-life, the sadness I feel for all women who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Pretty sure many pro-choicers assume that I’m anti-woman.

I cry for these women.

I’m sad for them because I know 4,000 women each day abort their child. I’m sad for them because they usually receive no support from the father of their child or from their parents or friends. I’m sad for them because the only “friend” they find themselves talking to is the abortion worker. I’m sad for them because they have believed the lies that so many of us women have believed for far too long: “You’re weak. You’re helpless. You’re not strong enough to have this baby. This baby will ruin your life. In fact, it will end your life.”

I believed these lies for SO long. I remained convinced from 8th grade until just a couple years ago: “If I ever get pregnant, my life is over.”

Who told me this lie? No one specifically. It was more of the “mantra” of my teenage and college years. Almost like a “Scared Straight” episode but with pregnancy as the “drug” that will do you in. A baby TRAPPED you. A baby was a BURDEN. A baby was a MISTAKE.

I’ve written about my conversion to the pro-life side here. But what I’d like to end with today is a letter to the unborn. It seems that “An Open Letter To…” posts tend to be popular. I just saw someone wrote one to a certain Presidential Candidate who shall remain nameless. But in the abortion industry, people write letters too.

For example, did you know you can write letters to abortion workers telling them they are praying for their conversion and that they were there to help, like the Love Letter Campaign from And Then There Were None? People write letters to women who’ve had abortions who claim they have no regrets about ending their lives of their offspring, like this one from Rep. Diane Black. People write letters to women who are hurting and feeling suicidal due to their abortions (simply Google “An Open Letter to Post-Abortive Women” and you’ll see tons of examples, especially from those who have had an abortion).

I found myself writing the following letter that I addressed to the unborn. I know most children that I “spiritually adopt” in the womb will never read this. But I am still comforted by the fact that they will one day understand that there were many of us that fought for the least of these:

To The Unborn-

I don’t know you, little one. I don’t know you or your mother. But I pray everyday that you hear my voice in that little womb of yours. If you hear echoes of “protect” and “save” and “choose life,” that’s me and my friends. We fight for your life everyday. Some days we might say this prayer called a Rosary where we pray for our Mother Mary to intercede for us to save your life.

I want you to know that I desperately want you to live. Sometimes people out here don’t understand what they say when they yell and scream or even just talk to one another about “Choice” and “Reproductive Rights.” I know these words don’t mean much to you now but I assure you there are people who claim these words mean that they can end your life before you see your Mom face to face.

Just know that your Mom loves you. She doesn’t understand what’s happening right now. And maybe some people are lying to her. They make her feel weak and inadequate. They tell her that she’s incapable of taking care of you. They tell her things that make her feel like she’s making the right “choice.” They use language to make her feel like you are nothing but a problem that needs to be destroyed. That you are a mistake. And a burden.

But many of us know better. We know destroying an innocent life like yours is not going to solve any “problem.” Please know that in addition to praying for your soul, I pray for your parents too. I want them to meet you and God someday so I know how important it is to pray for their souls. 

Unfortunately, your parents don’t understand the JOY and HAPPINESS that your life could bring them! But I know, without a doubt, your Mom IS strong. I pray she knows that. And your Mom IS loving. I pray for her to know that too. She may say or think that she’s “not ready to be a mother.” But what she doesn’t know is that she’s already a mother. The second you were conceived, she became a mother and your dad became a father. They are parents and always will be, no matter what.

Most of all I pray for you and your little soul. Many more people that you don’t even know and will never meet are praying for you right now, too. Many of us end up crying, begging, and pleading with God that you’re life is spared from death. That you get a chance to take a breath outside your home in your mother’s body.

So stay strong. Don’t be scared. And forgive your parents, especially your mother. The pain you may feel will be quickly forgotten once you experience the bliss and joy of entering heaven’s gate and see Mary, Our Mother, her arms wide open to welcome you home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running with the Rosary

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“The ROSARY is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the Rosary is beyond description.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Way to Inner Peace)

As some of you may already know, I’m a Personal Trainer and overall obsessed gym rat. Recently, I’ve been trying to find a way to blend my favorite things together – my faith AND my love of fitness. There are others out there with this same problem goal and I’m always in awe to see people and companies who have blended this successfully.

Some examples:

What Would Jesus Deadlift? They are all over social media, especially Instagram where followers take pictures of themselves in WWJD gear. (Of course, I’ve bought a two shirts myself as soon as I discovered them). From their website:

Have you ever finished your set and thought, What Would Jesus Deadlift? Wear this comfortable shirt at the gym to motivate you and those around you while you workout to meditate on what Jesus lifted. That weight on that cross was all of our sins, yours and mine. Just as Jesus picked up that cross, you can pick up that weight!

Our Vision: We are not here to just sell shirts and become rich. We are here to help send a message with this design. God has called us to challenge others to put some thought to “What Would Jesus Deadlift?” What does that mean? How does that relate to my fitness lifestyle? My spiritual journey? Am I taking what Jesus did on that cross for granted?

Think about it. Make others do the same.

Our Mission: We are here to give back. With every purchase you make, we make a local impact here in Fresno, CA as we reach out to others by giving them a free t-shirt, help with food, talking and ministering to others on “What Would Jesus Deadlift”. We hope you can be part of it!

PrayFit MinistriesThe mission of PrayFit Ministries is to help the collective church with humble, bodily stewardship, and to help those in the health & fitness industry toward a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In The PrayFit Diet, NYT best selling author Jimmy Peña shows us how faith is the most powerful tool we have to conquer all of life’s obstacles, and that includes our health. More importantly, God wants you to be at your best, physically and spiritually. By combining perfectly proportioned meals with Biblically based motivation, The PrayFit Diet will give you all the tools you need to live a life that will both inspire you and honor the Lord.


So what about me?  I don’t have a clothing line…I’m not a best selling author….I’m not a professional figure competitor with a large following.

How can I use my faith to promote a healthy life and help others do the same?

I discovered one small way this morning during my long run.

I’m training for a marathon in October and I was scheduled to run 8 miles today. I started out listening to music from iPhone which I normally do to keep me motivated. To run in complete silence is definitely do-able but not ideal when you have a run longer than a couple miles.

Today, it was about 80 degrees during my run which means I probably felt like it was around 85-90 degrees. To say this was challenging would be an understatement.

After 3 miles in this time, I decided to try something different. I stopped the music and started my Rosary App. (Yes there’s a Rosary app, there’s an app for everything isn’t there?)

The app is pretty simple; it has simple graphics and an audio (voice) that goes through the entire rosary. You choose which “Mystery” you’d like to pray and just hit “play.”

I grabbed my Mom’s rosary that she had with her for the final years of her life while she fought lymphoma. It was a perfect way to pray a rosary because, as you can see from the picture, it fits right around your thumb!

I made it from mile 3 to mile 7 praying through the Luminous Mysteries as well as the Sorrowful Mysteries. Each Mystery takes about 25 minutes to pray through so for me, given how slow of a runner I am, that equated 2 miles.

The Pros:

I was actually able to meditate and pray without getting distracted too much. Anyone who knows their rosary knows getting distracted while reciting the same prayer over and over again is a common occurrence. But I think because I was actively moving (running, in this case) I was surprisingly able to stay focused.

The time it took to get through this sweaty run went by very quickly. While most of the time, listening to music DOES kinda get the blood flowing and the legs moving, it still seems like it takes FOREVER for me to complete my miles. This time, I felt motivated by the words being prayed. Kind of like a chant? Whatever it was, it helped pass the time.

The Cons:

Due to the heat and the fact that I didn’t have a water belt on me, I was SUPER thirsty. This was increased due to the fact that I was trying to SAY the Rosary out loud along with the app. Of course, even though I’m not that fast of a runner, I still couldn’t quite get the words out. So it was more of a breathless whisper instead of speaking out loud. But even just this whisper caused me to feel like I constantly needed water. I took a few walk breaks but I attempted to time them when I finished a decade which I found to be kind of a good “break.”

I think Running with the Rosary has some potential. But, I would probably be hesitant to promote it as the BEST way to pray it. I think any super Catholic would suggest that you should really be still and silent or at least in a chapel to pray the rosary “best.” But, for those who say they are too busy to pray or too busy to say a rosary, why not just say one Hail Mary while you’re running? And then if you feel like you can do more, add a few more. Then you might add more until you’ve said a whole decade.  My personal feeling is that as long as you show Mary her proper reverence and can get in a few rosaries while running, I think she would say, “Run with me! Just don’t run FROM me!” 🙂


 

For those who have no idea how to pray the rosary, or how to stay focused when distractions come up I have a few good resources listed here.

From: Understanding the Rosary – A Wake Up Call by Kat Franchino

Tiny Cheat Sheet: Rosary Edition

  • The word rosary itself is Latin and translates along the lines of “a garland of roses.” The story goes that St. Dominic developed the Rosary sometime between the 12th and 15th centuries after having a vision of the Virgin Mary, but prayer beads and cords were used way before St. Dominic’s vision.
  • The Rosary is divided into decades, with each decade starting with a mystery. A mystery is a short reading that focuses on an aspect of Jesus or Mary’s life, with the word mystery meaning “a truth of the faith.” Still a little baffled by that translation of mystery. There are three traditional mysteries (Joyful, Sorrow and Glorious mysteries), as well as the Luminous mysteries, added by Pope John Paul II in 2002. When praying a decade of the Rosary (the Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, Glory Be and the Fatima prayer), Catholics meditate on that decade’s mystery.
  • The Rosary is said for a variety of reasons. We say it because of our devotion to Mary who intercedes on our behalf. Saying it gives us an opportunity to meditate on key moments in Jesus’ life. The Rosary also helps us become more intentional and thoughtful in our prayers.

From: The Beginner’s Guide to the Rosary

Offering Intentions

Practically everyone who prays the Rosary “offers” the Rosary to God and Our Lady for an intention. Some people offer particular intentions before each decade. You can ask God to grant you a favor, heal a sick person, or convert a sinner. Some people offer the same intention every day–sometimes for years on end–especially when asking the Father for the conversion of a particular person. Intentions are as varied as the people who pray.

Ask for big and small gifts. Be bold! In this sense, the Rosary is an exchange of gifts between friends.

It is widely known that Our Lady answers seemingly impossible intentions to those who are first beginning to pray the Rosary. This is her way of drawing you closer to Her and to Jesus. If you are praying your first Rosary, or returning to the Rosary after years of not talking to Our Lady, ask for something big, spectacular, “impossible.” She’ll often surprise you.